Monday, October 29, 2007

We're Going to Camp!

Check this out! We will be sending this video along with Paul's care package. video

In other news, we're going to camp in just a couple of days!!! Wahoo! It should be a TON of fun. We'll be having classes in marine life, reptiles, completing rope classes, and canoing. YAY! Make sure to get to school in time with everything in tow for camp. Don't forget your sleeping bag.


An important note: Make sure NOT to bring any electronics including cell phones and ipods. I know this may be difficult, but the truth is that in a case of emergency, parents can call Camp Seymour, and teachers can definitely contact parents. A few days without a phone will work out just fine--no worries.

We have just had an AMAZING week at school. I was joined in teaching by Erin and Jill, two pre-service teachers in school at Seattle University. Erin and Jill will be certified by the end of the school year. In the meantime, they will be spending two more weeks with us-- one week in November (during conferences) and one week in December. I will be contacting some of you to ask your permission for having one of these teachers sit in on your parent/teacher conference.

Other news: Podcasts of family stories will start appearing on the website after camp, big thanks to Maxie's mom for gathering all the first aid materials and putting them together for us this week! Now each student will have their very own first aid kit. Thanks! Also, make sure that anything you would like to send to Paul for his next care package should be brought in by Tuesday, October 30.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Classroom Visits by Authors and Scientists, Upcoming Podcasts, and our Veteran's Day Project

We will be recording our Family Project essays and publishing with podcasts in the next few weeks!

This week was full of fun in F3. All of F pod got together on Monday morning to hear again from Tom (from the Marine Science Afloat Program) to follow up on what we learned about the Puget Sound Watershed while we were sailing in early October. Kids came up with fantastic ideas of what they could do to help Puget Sound stay clean. One of the ideas is to clean up after your dog. (In fact, we learned that the very best way to handle dog poop is to put it in the toilet so that it will go through sewage treatment.)

The next day (Tuesday), kids in F pod heard from published author Nathan Kumar Scott. He read from his book Mangoes and Bananas, and shared some fascinating facts about what it means to be published.

Nearly all the students completed typing their family project this week. Thanks to all parents for helping out with getting the information available. I have been enjoying reading all of the projects. This coming week, students will be able to polish up their essay and their map and family tree pages, and work on their podcasts. That's right! Students will be broadcasting their family project with an audio recording. Only first names will be used. Each week, I will make several of them available to listen through the website. For all you public radio listeners out there, this will be a mini Storycorps project. If you have any concerns or questions regarding the podcasts, please contact me. More information and our first podcast will be coming next week!

Our Veteran's Day Project has gotten the go ahead from the Maple staff and from Paul so we're going ahead with it! We are going to involve all of Maple School by asking students and staff to bring in enough care package items for ALL of Paul's unit (175 Marines) to receive a package in time for the holidays. Many folks outside of Maple are also being asked to help out. Veteran's Day is November 11th. Please encourage your friends and family to bring in any items to Maple the week of Parent Conferences, November 13th. We will be sending the care packages out before Thanksgiving.

Lastly: Camp is coming up in about a week and a half!! Bring in those permission slips and the funds!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Phone Call from Iraq and an Upcoming Family Project Due Date

An example of a family tree. I will show students many options this week.

So how cool is this: Lcpl. Paul Craddick called us at 1:05pm on Wednesday, October 10th. It was SO GREAT! We all gathered around the phone and listen to Paul tell us what he's been up to--for about 25 minutes! What did we hear? First off, he and all the Marines in his unit are safe and sound. Also, he has seen a lot of the remnants of the war so far on his missions. He told us that many of the buildings he passes have bullet holes in them. But the most amazing part of the phone call was when Paul responded to each of our letters. He thanked one student for drawing an American flag on her letter and answered several questions one by one. It made each student feel pretty special. Thanks Paul!

The big due date this week is for the Family Project. All students should have had their interviews completed by Monday. The rough draft of their essay should be written by Monday the 15th. This week, students will do the map page and the family tree page of their project in class. I encourage students to bring in a special photograph to have scanned into the computer to go into their final project. By this Friday, October 19th, all students will have their essays typed and on the student drive at Maple. Any work typed at home should be sent to school on a floppy disk, a jump drive, or in an attachment sent by email to me at mrventura@seattleschoools.org.

Parents: if you haven't done so already, please send back the parent conference notice that I sent home on Wednesday. If you hadn't already signed up for a time to meet in November, I set aside a time to meet with you. If there is a conflict with the time, please call me at Maple.

Lastly: be prepared. Wednesday will be a fun day. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Pledge, Marine Science Afloat, and Laptops

Checking out the sea life on board!
Last week started off on a very high note: students in F3 decided to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school at 3:05-- right before they leave for the day. The idea to say the Pledge came after reading Paul's first letter to us and reading that it meant a lot to him that the students said the Pledge the day he left to go to the Middle East.

We went on a FANTASTIC field trip on Wednesday. The only bummer was that a few of us got a little sea sick. But otherwise, we had a great time! We went on the Goodtime II and we were taken from Pier 55 to Alki by Marine Science Afloat. The crux of the trip was learning about watersheds and meet the fabulous creatures of the Puget Sound, and learning what we can do to keep the Puget Sound clean.

As many of you learned on Curriculum Night, fifth graders have access to laptops this year. The students were introduced to the computers on Friday. We'll be using these laptops to type out final copies of writing, to look up information in science and social studies, and to work with some educational programming. We will be using the laptops once or twice a week.

Coming up this week we will start writing the essay portion of the Family Project. All interviews should have been completed by today. We'll be continuing our learning about land and water-- primarily through reading. And in math, we'll continue our unit on estimation.

One last note: please get the camp forms and money orders or checks in this coming week. I am planning for ALL students in F3 to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to spend a few days at Camp Seymour together. Remember, we leave for camp on October 31!

Monday, October 1, 2007

An End to an Exciting and Invigorating 1st Month in F3


Where in the world did your family come from before coming to the United States?
What is your family's story?

Thanks to all students for making this such a great month in F3. The fifth graders have been working hard and are starting on a new project that will take us through to the middle of October. Students will work on their Family Project. (Please click on the link for due dates and other important information. The objective of this project is to gain a initial idea as to how the United States was formed. Later on in the year, we will learn about early US history, but for right now, we are going to learn about what prompted our families to come here to this country. By now your child should have talked to you about this project and by October 8, their interviews should be complete. Interviews must be done with an older member of the family.

I apologize to all parents who I missed seeing on Thursday night. I left Maple that afternoon with the intention of just taking a nap, and ended up staying home both that night and Friday with a cold. I am feeling better now and look forward to seeing all of the students on Monday morning.

As another reminder, please make sure to come to Maple for one more Thursday on October 4th for curriculum night. I look forward to talking with all parents about the curriculum we'll be covering this year, particularly the HIV/AIDS curriculum and the Family Life and Sexual Education unit.

Lastly, please read our latest letter from Lcpl. Paul Craddick. He just arrived in Kuwait this past weekend, and will be heading to Ramadi in Iraq in the next several days. I will talk to the students regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and how often they would like to say it. As a school, we only say the pledge once a week, however the students and I may choose to say it more often in honor of Paul and his fellow Marines.